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Health

Report: Oklahoma Had Highest Price Increases On Federal Insurance Marketplace Last Year

Dr. Wendy Pitt examines a patient at Variety Care Inasmuch Foundation Pediatric and Wellness Center at 500 SW 44th St. in Oklahoma City.
Brent Fuchs
/
The Journal Record
Dr. Wendy Pitt examines a patient at Variety Care Inasmuch Foundation Pediatric and Wellness Center at 500 SW 44th St. in Oklahoma City.

Oklahoma leads the nation in price increases on the federal health insurance exchange, according to a national analysis by the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation.

Prices for silver health plans on the federal exchange rose 42 percent from 2015 to 2016, according to The Journal Record’s Sarah Terry-Cobo:

The monthly cost for a non-smoking, 40-year-old Oklahoman rose from $201 in 2015 to $283 in 2016. One reason for Oklahoma’s sharp rate increase was lack of competition. Blue Cross Blue Shield was the only provider that has participated in the state’s insurance exchange for each of the last several years. Global Health, Assurant and Community Care participated in 2014, but dropped out in 2015. United Health Care of Oklahoma Inc. joined in 2015. Global Health Senior Vice President and Chief Strategy Officer John Wiscaver said his company decided not to participate last year because prices were too volatile. There weren’t enough young people buying insurance, so actuarial assessments didn’t accurately reflect the risk in the market, Wiscaver said. His company still sells insurance to state employees and to senior citizens. “Our mission to our members is to keep it affordable and available,” he said. “We didn’t feel that it was in the best interest of our members to stay in the exchange.”

Blue Cross Blue Shield is the only company that has been on the exchange for Oklahoma for several years. The marketplace is run by the federal government since Gov. Mary Fallin opted not to establish a state-run exchange when the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, sometimes referred to as Obamacare, went into effect. Three others were on for a year, then dropped out. United Health Care joined in 2015.

From Terry-Cobo:

Global Health Senior Vice President and Chief Strategy Officer John Wiscaver said his company decided not to participate last year because prices were too volatile. There weren’t enough young people buying insurance, so actuarial assessments didn’t accurately reflect the risk in the market, Wiscaver said. His company still sells insurance to state employees and to senior citizens. “Our mission to our members is to keep it affordable and available,” he said. “We didn’t feel that it was in the best interest of our members to stay in the exchange.” Blue Cross Blue Shield of Oklahoma spokeswoman Ashley Hudgeons wrote in an email to The Journal Record that averages may not accurately reflect individual rates, because there is so much variation among individual buyers. Rates are determined in part on medical care costs, prescription costs, participants’ health and how often people go to the doctor, she wrote.

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